Competition For Fisk

Apparently, Robert Fisk doesn’t have a monopoly on anti-West paranoia among British journalists. Reuters (no one here but us freedom fighters…) has reported that Yvonne Ridley, the woman who snuck into Afghanistan and was captured by the Taliban and later released, is accusing the CIA, or Mossad, or MI5, or somebody, she’s not quite sure who, of plotting to have her shot for propaganda purposes. She says the Taliban released her because they caught on to the evil plot, but even though she’s seen incriminating documents, she can’t produce them. Maybe her donkey ate the evidence…

Now We Know The Real Reason For The War

According to this story by Dennis Hans, Bush and Cheney cut a deal with the mens’ grooming industry for the concession to the Afghan shaving market.

The disconcerting thing about this piece is that I can’t figure out for the life of me whether it is lunacy or satire. If it were in the Onion, no problem. But it’s printed at Common Dreams, a site that professes to be a center for “breaking news and views for the Progressive community.”

So, is it real, or parody, and if it’s the latter, do the Common Dreams folks understand that, or did they post it in seriousness?

What do y’all think?

[Thursday Update]

A kind (and unduly appreciative) reader, with reading ability apparently vastly superior to my own, has pointed out that the word “Parody” appears just above the headline.

[VOICE=”Emily Litella”]

Never mind.

[/VOICE]

Kick Him While He’s Down

In addition to his (probably-deserved) physical beating in Afghanistan, Robert Fisk has also undergone an even more deserved rhetorical pummeling by Welch, Layne, et al. Now David Perlmutter piles on in Front Page Magazine.

So the beating of Robert Fisk teaches us much but apparently he has learned nothing. Didn’t they used to say that a conservative was a liberal who has been mugged? Not any more. For some people a crack to the head cannot dislodge calcified prejudices.

Kick Him While He’s Down

In addition to his (probably-deserved) physical beating in Afghanistan, Robert Fisk has also undergone an even more deserved rhetorical pummeling by Welch, Layne, et al. Now David Perlmutter piles on in Front Page Magazine.

So the beating of Robert Fisk teaches us much but apparently he has learned nothing. Didn’t they used to say that a conservative was a liberal who has been mugged? Not any more. For some people a crack to the head cannot dislodge calcified prejudices.

Kick Him While He’s Down

In addition to his (probably-deserved) physical beating in Afghanistan, Robert Fisk has also undergone an even more deserved rhetorical pummeling by Welch, Layne, et al. Now David Perlmutter piles on in Front Page Magazine.

So the beating of Robert Fisk teaches us much but apparently he has learned nothing. Didn’t they used to say that a conservative was a liberal who has been mugged? Not any more. For some people a crack to the head cannot dislodge calcified prejudices.

Our Friends The Palestinians

According to this story in the Israel National News, Zinni has thrown in the towel on Arafat.

American mediator Gen. Anthony Zinni, who met with Yasser Arafat yesterday, said about him, “I have never encountered such lack of trustworthiness in my life.”

Well, duhhhhh!

Better late than never, I guess…

Like King Arthur at the French castle in Monty Python’s Holy Grail, he’s now looking for someone else to talk to over there.

Wishful Thinking?

I hope so, but sometimes I fear not.

In another egregious example of 911 opportunism, Senator Schumer has a piece in yesterday’s Washington Post on how September 11 means that the government has to get bigger. I guess that we’re supposed to think that, if the government doesn’t grow, the terrorists win…

I was going to put this up yesterday, but I got busy with other things. Then Chris Pellerito shamed me into finishing up by beating me to it.

Since the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, those who believe the federal government should shrink have had the upper hand.

Oh, really? I guess that explains why government has been growing faster than inflation or population over the past twenty years…

Sept. 11 changed all that. For the foreseeable future, the federal government will have to grow.

No, Chuckie, it doesn’t have to grow–it just has to change. It needs to focus on things that the Founders foresaw the federal government doing, and cease doing those things that they did not.

Our society will have to examine the vulnerable pressure points in our country — air travel, nuclear power plants, public health systems, power and computer grids, border crossings — and work to protect each from terrorist attack. The list of vulnerable areas will grow as technology evolves and continues to allow small groups of terrorists to threaten large parts of our society. Only one entity has the breadth, strength and resources to lead this recalibration and pay for its costs — the federal government.

To ask each town and village to guard all the power lines, gas lines and aqueducts is too much; to ask large private-sector companies such as airlines and food processors to be wholly responsible for the security of their products is also too much.

It is “too much”? Why is it too much? Who better to guard a reservoir than the town to whom it provides water? Who better to watch a food process than the food processor? Where does the good Senator think that his cherished “federal government” gets its money? Manna from heaven? Every dollar that gets shipped off to Washington is a dollar that’s not available to provide for local security.

It is not just that Washington is the only entity with the ability to raise the resources our new situation requires; the notion of letting a thousand different ideas compete and flourish — which works so well to create goods and services — does not work at all in the face of a national security emergency. Unity of action and purpose is required, and only the federal government can provide it.

Even assuming that’s true, it doesn’t require growth in government.

And in fact it’s not true. Adopting a flawed standard and forcing everyone to comply doesn’t enhance security–it diminishes it. We followed a federal standard in dealing with hijacking on 911–cooperate with the hijackers. One plane in Pennsylvania tried a different approach–who knows how many lives or buildings were thereby saved? Adopting a federal standard creates a monoculture that is much easier to attack–the terrorists can count on a certain response in all circumstances.

Sorry, Chuckie, but competition works in defense, just as it does in the marketplace (not that I think you really believe that it works there either–it’s just lip service in a flawed attempt to make you sound reasonable).

The era of a shrinking federal government has come to a close. From 1912 to 1980, the federal government grew with little interruption. The modern conservative movement, beginning with Barry Goldwater in 1964 and attaining power with Ronald Reagan’s victory in 1980, argued that Washington had grown too large, too inefficient and too out of touch. Even liberals had to admit there was some truth to this argument. For the next two decades, the federal government stopped growing, and by some measures even shrank, with Bill Clinton doing more of the shrinking than any other president.

Why do you think that you can get away with this wholesale rewriting of history, Chuckie? Don’t you think we’re capable of fact checking? There’s this thing called “The Internet” that allows us to look up year-on-year statistics of almost any parameter we wish.

By what measures did it even stop growing, let alone shrink? The only one that I can think of is number of federal employees, which is utterly worthless as a means of measuring the growth of government. When Congress passes a law involuntarily deputizing me to keep track of who has a visa and who doesn’t, or forcing me to contribute my mud puddle to part of our wetlands heritage, the government just grew, even if they didn’t make me a GS-13. When NASA lays off civil servants, but hires aerospace contractors, with taxpayer funds, to do the same thing that they would have done, the federal work force shrinks, but not the government. At best, Reagan slowed down the rate of growth.

And most of the “shrinkage” of the work force by Bill Clinton came from the military and intelligence agencies. You know, that part of the government that was supposed to help prevent what happened on September 11? The one that, unlike most of your vaunted agencies created in the past seventy years, actually has a Constitutionally-ordained role? The one that, even in the demoralized and depleted state in which Mr. Clinton left it, is kicking terrorist butt in Afghanistan right now (though we may have to delay any further campaigns until we restock things like Daisy Cutters and smart munitions, which Mr. Clinton’s Pentagon didn’t think necessary to purchase all throughout the nineties)?

But our new situation has dramatically reversed that trend. Within a few years, those like Dick Armey and Tom DeLay, who believe that any time the federal government moves, its fingers should be chopped off, will be fighting an increasingly desperate rear guard action.

No, Chuck–you’re the one fighting the rear-guard action. Remember one of your favorite issues–federal gun control? People are rushing to the gun counters and signing up for training, even in your own state of New York. Even the “soccer Moms” are down at the firing range.

The changing times present President Bush with what could be the greatest challenge of his presidency. The tectonic plates beneath us are inexorably moving us to larger federal involvement. Surveys show that the American people are willing to cede more authority and dollars to Washington to do such things as tighten borders, make the skies safer and shore up our public health systems.

Surveys show lots of things, Chuckie. It just depends on what questions you ask, and how you ask them. They’re willing to cede more authority and dollars to do those things only insofar as they believe that it will be effective. After a few months of dealing with federal civil servants every time they get on an airplane, they may rethink these issues. And they may be persuadable that while we increase federal involvement in some areas, we should be decreasing it in others, particularly as they continue to take more responsibility for their own lives, and realize that government won’t, and can’t always be there to hold their hand and wipe their nose, and shoot the bad guys, no matter how much authority we cede, and how many dollars we send to our betters in Washington.

Many who know George Bush well say he instinctively recognizes this change. But many in the base of his party do not. Since Sept. 11, the president has had to face down the hard right as often as he has fought with Democrats.

This isn’t about “right” and “left.” That’s pre-911 partisan bullshit.

It’s about smart and dumb. It’s about Constitutional and not.

It’s about freedom and responsibility.

People Of The Decade

UPI columnist Jim Bennett suggests that:

There is now some discussion that Osama bin Laden may be nominated Time’s Man of the Year. As you may recall, the criterion for that honor is to be the person who had the biggest impact on events during the past year.

It would be worthwhile to spread the meme, via emails, postings, and weblogs, that the nomination ought to go to the passengers and crew of United Flight 93. The Era of Osama lasted about an hour and half or so, from the time the first plane hit the tower to the moment the General Militia of Flight 93 reported for duty. At that point the Era of the Victim Fighting Back began.

Osama’s shadow on history is short. The shadow of the heroes of Flight 93 will be long. They deserve the nomination as People of the Year.

I agree that they’re more worthy than bin Laden, but while it’s early in the decade to make such an assessment, when we look back over it nine years from now, we may find that they deserve a People Of The Decade award, if such a thing exists.

Don’t expect Time to pick up on the suggestion, though–it’s still too politically incorrect (as demonstrated by the ongoing airline-security insanity), which means that the full impact of their actions hasn’t been societally felt yet.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!

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